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4.2.3 Classifying asset trends in the cognitive maps

The assets portrayed in the cognitive maps can be categorised into six main types; natural features, buildings and landmarks, clubs and societies, activities and meeting places, transport and geographical areas. These categories are common across all of the groups, and relate

strongly back to the categories of paths, edges, nodes, districts and landmarks of the work of Lynch (1960), for example geographical areas such as Barrhead and Gallowhill correspond to districts, whilst Paisley Cross represents a node and stone memorials represent landmarks.


The natural features within the maps included formally designated natural assets (such as a nature reserve and a country park) but also included two local parks and an area of greenspace in the town centre. Some of the participants from Roar added personal notes about one park, which used to have a model railway and a sunken garden.


Cognitive mapping demonstrated that many participants valued church buildings, both as landmarks and as a member of a congregation (for example being part of the Elim Christian Fellowship). The Abbey featured in many maps, but not every participant attributed meaning to this, therefore one cannot make assumptions as to whether it is a centre for religious worship, a landmark of note or performs another function (one participant did include the Abbey coffee shop, and noted that the nearby Cathedral was their former Parish). One property which was formally a church, but is now an arts centre, was noted by a participant with its former name (Laigh Kirk), this demonstrates how sacred sites in particular often have complex layers of meaning as cultural assets (Sinha, 1991) and confirms that “community mapping projects have been successful at revealing conflicting perspectives” (Coulton, Chan and Mikelbank, 2011, p.13); although this is not a dramatic conflict as such it does illustrate that cognitive mapping as a tool can be useful for cultural asset mapping as it can show more than one meaning of one asset, as well as changes to assets over time.


As a working settlement, Paisley forms an administrative centre (Understanding Scottish Places, 2017) therefore it is unsurprising that functional civic buildings were mentioned, such as a jail, crematorium and court, together with the town hall, museum and observatory.

Places of education at all levels from nursery through to University were noted across the maps, an insight on one map noted that they attended a political party meeting at a school venue, hinting at the multi-functional nature of community venues.

For Roar in particular former places of employment in the town were noted; some of these workplaces are no longer in existence, therefore these represent a particularly personal view of “the landscape of the mind” (Sulsters, 2005, p.1). Similarly this offers a clue into the urban development of the town, as farming areas for strawberries, rhubarb and turkeys were noted, as well as former industries such as the jam factory and mills; there are examples of this type of insight being commonly used in ventures which are funded with a heritage angle

(Heritage Lottery Fund, 2010), suggesting that cognitive mapping may be a useful approach for practice-based research projects of this nature.


The clubs and societies included in the maps show a range of interests, and hint at a high level of civic participation and physical activity within the groups. This correlates to the Scottish Government data on participation in Renfrewshire being generally high for community activities, although contradicts that for sports, with those mentioned in the cognitive mapping research do not appear as high ranking in the Scottish Government statistics (Scottish Government, 2017a). There were differences in the types of societies among the three groups, for example the sports and active hobbies which the younger demographic were involved in included Pokemon hunting and parkour, whilst those of an older demographic commonly included bowling clubs. Golf was common to both Roar and Create, whilst dancing and football were mentioned for Roar and Star. Participation in a housing forum and with a carers centre was noted, hinting at the wider social support infrastructure of the town being seen to be important, and medical facilities were commonly detailed in the maps. The local hospital featured prominently, together with doctor’s surgeries, psychologists and a recovery café. These facilities did not feature in the maps of the younger people, but were common to those produced by Star Project and Roar, perhaps reflecting the relative life-stages of each demographic.


In terms of activities and meeting places, shopping featured highly in every group. This included small independent and specialist stores, charity shops and national chains. Food shopping featured particularly prominently in Star Project maps, and former large department stores in the Roar maps. Both convenience and comparison stores were given a place in the maps, with small corner shops and out of town stores noted which fits well with Arefi’s discussions on how “economic transactions (can) shape and affect the conception of place” (Arefi, 1999, p.180). The most notable type of leisure facility listed in Roar maps related to former cinemas, members had a high degree of knowledge about the location and nature of cinemas in the town which shows the degree of attachment to these former assets, and the strength of these connections for reminiscence purposes, a strand of practice which is well documented in contemporary research (Willshaw, 2005, Crooke, 2010, Bonnett and Alexander, 2013, Gregory, 2014).


Social connections were commonly depicted in the maps, with “home” and visiting friends or family also mentioned frequently. Places to eat were featured in each group, with former and

current favourites noted and some maps including illustrations of what was had at that particular venue (e.g. a cup of coffee icon, or a cocktail glass drawing). One particular café featured highly among two groups, and had several functions attached to it (this was also the venue for one of the research workshops), whilst another recently established small chain of café/bar venues was also noted by the same groups. This stresses the importance of multi- function venues, and that the primary purpose of a venue may not be the only way in which it is interacted with.


To illustrate the range and of assets which were depicted in the cognitive mapping, the word cloud below in Figure 8 show an aggregated summary of the assets mentioned within one of the groups, in this case, the Star Project:


Figure 8- Word Cloud as a method of analysing cognitive maps


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Source: Personal research- analysis of Star Project workshop participant maps